Saturday, August 4, 2012

Think As I Think

"Think as I think," said a man,
"Or you are abominably wicked;
You are a toad."

And after I had thought of it,
I said, "I will, then, be a toad."
~Stephen Crane (November 1, 1871 – June 5, 1900)

I was raised a Southern Baptist.  My father became a preacher when I was 10 or so.  Both of my parents are missionaries, both overseas and in the United States.  From a very young age I read the Bible and participated in Bible Trivia and Bible Drills.  I sang in the choir, attended youth group, went to church camps, even preached a sermon one youth Sunday.  I was 5 years old when I took Jesus into my heart, accepted His plan for me and was baptized.
My first doubts about my faith began in my teens.  What I heard at church and what I saw in the world weren't the same things.  The people I knew in church were not the same way in their personal and professional lives as they were at church.  The tiny crack in my beliefs widened into a chasm when I was 18.  My father, upon learning of my unwed pregnancy, told me to STOP going to the church we had been attending when I was in high school.  He was embarassed and ashamed to have my "sins" associated with him.  That certainly did NOT mesh with his sermons about God being all-loving and forgiving.
In my twenties I began to explore religions outside the one in which I'd been raised.  I spent hours, days, weeks trying to find answers to the questions I had about life, about purpose, about a supreme being who had a PLAN for ME.  I started with the Protestant religions, those most closely related to Southern Baptists, and then branched out into Eastern religions.  I studied the Gods of the Greeks and the Romans. 
By the time I was thirty I was a full-blown Agnostic. [Agnosticism: The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist.] In all my searching, reading, asking, looking, and observing I had only become LESS sure of anything I'd grown up swallowing about God.  My limited capacity to understand the Bible and the existence of God turned out not to be the problem.  The problem was with the concpt of God.
At thirty-eight I embraced Atheism.  [Atheism: Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.]  History of religions taught me that men invented Gods to explain the phenomena for which they had no answers.  As science and technology advanced, many of these phenomena were explained.  Thunder and lightning aren't caused by angry Gods, crops don't wither because farmers don't sacrifice their prize livestock, natural disasters are not divine retribution. 
I accepted that it's okay not to have the answers.  I believe that NOT having the answers is a poor justification for making them up.  I have found that I am MORE sensitive the needs of others, more conscientious of their feelings now that I am personally responsible for my actions.  There's no more safety net of God's forgiveness for my transgressions.  There's no promise of rewards everlasting, nor the threat of unrelenting punishment.  All I have is this life.  I have a limited amount of days to spend and I choose to spend them with my eyes open.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm not dead......just broken

Too much has gone on in my life to even begin to put it all down LOL! 2011 has been a good year so far. Winter hasn't been as harsh here as in many other states. I'm lovin' my McJob :) It's nice to go to work, PARK my car, and not have to spend 6 hours driving hither and yon with pizzas. I can see myself staying with McDs for a good long while. And not just because I save on wear & tear on my car!! I enjoy the morning crew that I work with, and my shifts are never boring :)

My only resolution for 2011 is to keep the people in my life who bring me joy, and to kick the rest to the curb. So far, so good! I probably should've resolved to blog more, or lose weight, or quit smoking, but I thought if I stuck with just ONE resolution, I'd have a better shot at keeping it all year.

The kids are all great. They have 7 snow days to make up already and winter has been mild. Christian is doing really well in school this year and he has been progressing in his social skills. Sharayah has been growing like a weed in a cow patty. I predict she'll be taller than me (5'8") by the end of next year. Annie is in her second semester of college, and working a lot.

Hubby has been working his tail off, like he always does. We've been making a concerted effort to have a "date day/night" every week. It's nice to have time to ourselves :) Plus I never turn down an opportunity to eat at Applebee's!

I end with this poem, in honor of my friend who lost her daughter this year. Mothers know about this cord. My heart aches for her.

~The Invisible Cord~
We are connected,
My child and I,by
An invisible cord
Not seen by the eye.

It’s not like the cord
That connects us ’til birth
This cord can’t been seen
By any on Earth.

This cord does its work
Right from the start.
It binds us together
Attached to my heart.

I know that it’s there
Though no one can see
The invisible cord
From my child to me.

The strength of this cord
Is hard to describe.
It can’t be destroyed
It can’t be denied.

It’s stronger than any cord
Man could create
It withstands the test
Can hold any weight.

And though you are gone,
Though you’re not here with me,
The cord is still there
But no one can see.

It pulls at my heart
I am bruised…I am sore,
But this cord is my lifeline
As never before.

I am thankful that God
Connects us this way
A mother and child
Death can’t take it away!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When God Made Cats

When God Made Cats
When God made the world, He chose to put animals in it, and decided to give each whatever it wanted. All the animals formed a long line before His throne, and the cat quietly went to the end of the line. To the elephant and the bear He gave strength, to the rabbit and the deer, swiftness; to the owl, the ability to see at night, to the birds and the butterflies, great beauty; to the fox, cunning; to the monkey, intelligence; to the dog, loyalty; to the lion, courage; to the otter, playfulness. And all these were things the animals begged of God. At last he came to the end of the line, and there sat the little cat, waiting patiently. "What will YOU have?" God asked the cat.
The cat shrugged modestly. "Oh, whatever scraps you have left over. I don't mind."
"But I'm God. I have everything left over."
"Then I'll have a little of everything, please."
And God gave a great shout of laughter at the cleverness of this small animal, and gave the cat everything she asked for, adding grace and elegance and, only for her, a gentle purr that would always attract humans and assure her a warm and comfortable home.
But he took away her false modesty.
Lenore Fleischer

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Indiana Experience

Wow. Where to even start? What a long, strange trip it's been.
After living in a quiet li'l trailer park in Kentucky for 11 years, we moved to a doublewide on a couple acres in a quiet Amish community in May of 2009. It cost a bit more and necessitated a change in schools for the kids, but hubby was managing a store and making better money. We planned to stay there until, well until whenever! Loved it, beautiful location, we were mere minutes away from friends and family. We settled in, even got a dog for Christian. Life was good.
In August of 2009, life was great. Hubby had gotten his store into the shape he wanted. He was making bonuses. He was doing so well that he was offered a promotion. We decided he should take it. Even though it meant moving to Indiana. Two moves in one year was going to be hard for the kids. Plus we all had to give up animals. Of the 6 cats & the dog, only 2 cats got to come along. (Yes, it ended up being 3 when we found Moe at our old place in March!)
In November of 2009 life got hectic. My dad had health problems. My li'l bro had mental problems. We had a month to find a house in Indiana and get moved. Of course we managed to do it :) We're tough and smart. Christmas wasn't right with my dad being in and out of the hospital, then loopy on pain meds when he was home. The move was interesting. Transitoning to a new state, new schools, new job.... it was difficult.
By March of 2010, life was settling into a comfortable routine. The kids made friends and were both doing well in school. Their dad had begun sending child support regularly. We were able to zip back to Kentucky pretty often. We were looking for a better blace to live, a house with a dog~safe yard. Mainly a house that didn't cost $800 a month to HEAT! The plan was to send the kids to their dad's for the month of July and we'd move to the new place well before school started back in August. I even got a JOB!
Now on to June 1st. Six months into the new job and hubby's promotion was rescinded. "Thanks for uprooting your life to take this position. You did a great job. You're being replaced. As of today." Wow. And can I add that he drove 2 hours to the meeting where he lost his job? Gee, thanks for letting hubby waste all that gas. Four hours of his life he'll never get back. Grrr. Life is upside down!
The latest plan is to send the kids to their dad for June, sell all the furniture we can, purge until the Goodwill bins are overflowing, and then hubby & I stay with my parents for a few weeks. Hubby has a job waiting, we just have to find a place to live! I'll be calling the landlord I had from September 1998 to December 2009. Wonder if I can get him to toss out the people in that doublewide in the Amish neighborhood? LOL!
It'll all be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The best & the worst

The 1st and 3rd Friday of every month are when the kids go see their dad (MDM) for a visit. MDM cancelled the visit on Apr 2nd. This past Friday, the 16th, 12 minutes before we take off to meet MDM in Kentucky.....he texts me that he is cancelling yet again. Grrrr. He's cancelled half of his visits since we moved to Indiana. At least I've started getting child support again. But I am getting very annoyed with him. Every time he has a new kid, he gets flakier with the 1st two!
I went to Kentucky anyway :) Drove for 3 hours to spend a couple hours with my best friend, then drove back home in the dark in the pouring down rain. I needed the time to cool off. I really wanted to drive to MDM's house and punch him in the face. You know what I say, I'm only a couple Zoloft away from full~on crazy at any time! But I resisted the urge, MDM remains unpunched, and I made it home to the family safely before midnight!
Saturday we hung out as a family, then took POE to a sleepover. Shopping with hubby was great, as always. We each got 2 pairs of shorts for 35 cents....I am hooked on Salvation Army's Saturday sale! We got there 10 minutes before they closed, that's why we left with only 4 items :)
Today hubby hung out with POE while I took C out to practice driving. C did better than I expected. And he was more nervous than I expected, too. He takes direction well and he didn't hit anything! Not bad for a 1st time! I made the family favorite chicken casserole for dinner and we had a great relaxing evening.
Time to get to bed. 5 AM comes early. Come on, Monday. Bring it. I'm ready!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Top to bottom: 1 The shallow edge of lake, the crane flew off as I framed the shot! 2 Back of the house from across the lake 3 Duck at extreme left edge. The other one waddled out of frame faster 4 Back of the house again 5 Turtle to the left of center at shoreline. The big one dove in before I could shoot!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The trip

My memory is horrible, and I should have gotten all this down sooner. I'm sure my mother's account would be more complete, but alas, you are stuck with MINE! When I found out that Annie picked February 15th as the date to meet her biological parents, I started planning for a trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My mother was in the delivery room with me when Annie came into the world, it was only natural to ask her to go with me to meet Annie.
I started out Sunday the 14th by saying good-bye to hubby & kids and drove 2 1/2 hours to Mom's. From there we took her car (also a Ford Escort like mine, but only 7 yrs old, not 16!!) and headed off on our adventure.
At this point I should provide a little background. I smoke. Like a freight train. 2 packs a day, easy. My mom does not smoke and there was never any chance she'd allow her vehicle to be smoked in. We had non-smoking hotel rooms. It was FREEZING on our whole trip & I do not like to be cold. I decided eons ago that I'd rather be cranky than cold :) From 2:30 Sun afternoon until 5:30 Mon night I had smoked a total of FIVE cigarettes.
About 2 hours into our trip my dad sends his first text. "WhereYaAt?" I text back that we're however far away from Memphis. His reply "Memphis!!? Wrong way!" I double check Mom's mapquest instructions and let him know that yes, we are headed to Memphis. "Right" he texts back. and then "You don't go thru Mem to go to LA" I text back the highway we're on and the one we'll take down into Baton Rouge. "I don't think so Tim" is his response & then of course he CALLS me to 'splain that we're going the wrong way. The whole time we'd been texting, Mom & I were talking about how she'd looked up and printed out the directions. Dad did not even mention a route or ask her if she needed directions before we left. And guess what? When we got to Memphis and headed south, we ended up in Louisiana!
Mom paid for hotels, I bought gas & food. Mainly she wouldn't have wanted to stay anyplace I can afford! LOL! Sunday night we had dinner at Cracker Barrel and I was reminded again just how nice it is to hang out with my mom now that I'm an adult. Especially without the kids around :) After dinner it started snowing and we stopped for the night near Memphis at a very nice hotel! As I was getting my laptop set up I noticed a little hall at the end of my bed.....turned out to be a KITCHEN! I may be easily impressed, but that was a nice room and the best bed I ever slept in!
Monday morning we decide we're about 6 hours away from Baton Rouge. After breakfast at McD's - Mom and I have that in common, our fave breakfast spot - we headed south into Mississipi. Mom is in the pic above by the sign, at the neatest welcome center either of us has ever seen. It was like a museum/rest stop. There was a fireplace and rocking chairs and historical pictures and items from the underground railroad. We could've spent an hour there, it was neat. When we crossed into Louisiana we got that pic, too. Their welcome center had brass alligators for door handles, but other than that was not interesting at all LOL!
Once we crossed into Louisiana and got off the highway, Mom's directions took us on a long desolate drive thru swamps and forests. We eventually found the "main" road we needed, but not until we got sidetracked and wandered around in circles for a bit. If Mom spoke Creole or that gas station attendant spoke English we'd have been in Baton Rouge much, much sooner. But we found it and found the restaurant where we were meeting Annie with about 2 hours to spare. We found a Wal-Mart and spent about an hour wandering around talking about the grandkids (my two, POE and C, and li'l bro's baby Addison) and walking off my nerves.
At 5:30 we pulled into the parking lot at Las Palmas, where I'd be meeting my daughter at 6:00. I pulled on my gloves, zipped up my jacket and chain-smoked about 5 cigarettes until I couldn't take the cold any longer. I sat twisted in my seat, neck craned, watching for my Annie. An SUV pulled in with a dark-haired beauty in the passenger seat. As she got out, I ran to her, barely able to keep from tackling her. As I held her in my arms for only the 2nd time in her 18 years, I couldn't help but cry. Annie hugged me back and soothed me. What a poised and confident young lady this was. But still, in my heart, that tiny baby with the wild thick hair that I held so briefly so very long ago. I believe I held onto her hand until we had been seated at our table. Where, of course, I sat next to her, basically penning her in, getting as much time next to her as I could possibly get.
There were eight of us at dinner. Me, Mom, Annie, her boyfriend Cody, Annie's dad Frank & his girlfriend Christine, Annie's birth father Kevin & his fiancee Dawn. I hadn't seen Frank or Kevin since before Annie was born. When Frank & Christine got there and Frank enveloped me in a bear hug, I instantly felt the same way about him that I had when we first met and he & Ellie were about to adopt Annie. I saw how much he loved Annie and how much the proud papa he truly is during dinner. If I ever had any shred of doubt about whether or not I chose the right family for her, they disappeared in that hug. Christine is a photographer and took a lot of the hundreds of photos that Annie & Christine brought to the dinner. All the photos show a happy little princess who is the apple of her parents' eyes.
When Kevin & Dawn got there my first thought was "Hot damn, that's one sexy woman!" My second thought was that I felt no animosity or sadness at seeing Kevin again. It was just seeing an old friend from high school, catching up on the last 2 decades.....with a "by the way, here's the kid you didn't know about for 16 yrs" thrown in for good measure.
The whole dinner was great and comfortable. Mom and Cody were at the end of the table and got to spend a lot of time chatting while the rest of us were circled around Annie looking at pictures LOL! I agree with Mom that Cody is a fabulous young man who, if he ends up married to Annie, will never get much of a chance to talk LOL! Very quiet, but once he got to talking a little bit we got to learn a lot about him. The rest of the group made plans to go to New Orleans the next morning for Mardi Gras. I can't deal with crowds and noise, the OCD kicks into high gear and I'd have had a panic attack for sure. Mom had no interest in going either, so she and I headed north and homeward about 10:00.
When we stopped for the night a few hours later I was way too keyed up to sleep. My laptop and the hotel's wi-fi were not agreeable and it was way too damn cold to go outside and smoke, so I lay there tossing and turning and missing the mattress from the 1st hotel. Tuesday morning we found a McD's for breakfast. It was decorated with trains and had a train on a track around the ceiling of the store. As we headed north the temperature kept dropping and snow flurries became more frequent. By the time we got off the interstate by my last Kentucky homestead the roads were covered in snow. I called Dad to let him know we were 20 minutes away....and to ask him to start my car. I didn't plan to GO anywhere on snow-covered roads, I assured him. I just wanted to be warm AND smoke at the same time!! It was bedtime when we got to Mom's and after a few warm cigarettes and a "honey, I'm home safe" call to my hubby I did the previous blog post and went to sleep. Wednesday morning I made an appointment with my doctor to refill my crazy meds. Made it home just in time to miss dinner Wednesday night.
Hubby had it easy the 3 days I was gone. Kids had Monday off for President's day and it snowed all day. School had been cancelled for Tuesday by Monday afternoon. POE spent the night at a friend's house Mon night. Wednesday school was on a 2 hour delay. Hubby didn't have to wake up a snarling POE! Why can't I ever be that lucky? So anyway, there's the trip. It was great and I'd do another road trip with Mom anytime.